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Shadow puppet of the monkey hero Hanuman in the guise of Ravana's heir; from the Thai version of the epic of Rama
Place of Origin: Thailand
Date: approx. 1850-1900
Materials: Hide with pigments, bamboo
Dimensions: H. 76 1/4 in x W. 30 1/2 in, H. 193.7 cm x W. 77.5 cm
Credit Line: Gift from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Southeast Asian Art Collection
Department: Southeast Asian Art
Collection: Theatrical Arts
Object Number: 2006.27.115.1
On Display: No

Description

Label:

Large Thai shadow puppets (nang yai) are rarely used in performances today. These puppets—which can be over six feet tall—are expensive to manufacture, and few skilled puppet masters remain. Generally made from water buffalo hide or cowhide, the puppets are intricately cut out, perforated, and colored. Long bamboo sticks with which the puppet master manipulates the figures are then attached. A puppet may be used to portray either several characters or a single character, as seen here. During performances one or more puppet masters hold the puppets aloft while dancing, mimicking the character's movements with their own.

Hanuman, the faithful and courageous monkey warrior in the Indian epic Ramayana (The Epic of Rama), is a popular figure throughout South and Southeast Asia. This epic revolves around the battle between the hero Rama and the demon king Ravana, who has kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita. Hanuman helps Rama not only through his strength and bravery but also with his cunning strategy. In the different regions to which the Ramayana has spread, retellings of the story emphasize different events and new episodes have even been added. In the Thai version, the Rammakian, Hanuman tricks Ravana into believing that the monkey warrior would like to switch sides and battle Rama. Ravana rewards Hanuman by making him his heir and sends him into battle, as seen here, in full royal garb.


More Information

Exhibition History: Thematic exhibition "Shadows, Masks, and Music: Aspects of the Performing Arts in Asia" at AAM 4/23/05-1/22/06
Label:

Large Thai shadow puppets (nang yai) are rarely used in performances today. These puppets—which can be over six feet tall—are expensive to manufacture, and few skilled puppet masters remain. Generally made from water buffalo hide or cowhide, the puppets are intricately cut out, perforated, and colored. Long bamboo sticks with which the puppet master manipulates the figures are then attached. A puppet may be used to portray either several characters or a single character, as seen here. During performances one or more puppet masters hold the puppets aloft while dancing, mimicking the character's movements with their own.

Hanuman, the faithful and courageous monkey warrior in the Indian epic Ramayana (The Epic of Rama), is a popular figure throughout South and Southeast Asia. This epic revolves around the battle between the hero Rama and the demon king Ravana, who has kidnapped Rama's wife, Sita. Hanuman helps Rama not only through his strength and bravery but also with his cunning strategy. In the different regions to which the Ramayana has spread, retellings of the story emphasize different events and new episodes have even been added. In the Thai version, the Rammakian, Hanuman tricks Ravana into believing that the monkey warrior would like to switch sides and battle Rama. Ravana rewards Hanuman by making him his heir and sends him into battle, as seen here, in full royal garb.


Exhibition History: Thematic exhibition "Shadows, Masks, and Music: Aspects of the Performing Arts in Asia" at AAM 4/23/05-1/22/06